Student Senate creates task force to prevent destruction of Wakarusa Wetlands

Student Senate voted to form a task force to further work on the issue of the South Lawrence Trafficway that might possibly be constructed through the Wakarusa Wetlands.

Haskell Indian Nations University originally had the rights to the Wetlands, but after a time known as Indian Termination in the 1950s and 1960s, the rights to the land were given to KU along with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism and Baker University. The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) plans to construct the South Lawrence Trafficway beginning in the fall and one of the possible routes runs directly through the Wakarusa Wetlands.

Brian Sultana, a senior from Manhattan, along with other KU and Haskell students, and community members,want Student Senate to come up with a resolution to give the wetlands back to Haskell and avoid the destruction of the historical grounds. Sultana said there were originally more than 17,000 acres of wetlands and they are now down to 600. He said the further we push for development of the Trafficway, the further we push out the wetlands.

“The wetlands supports Baker, Haskell and KU,” Sultana said. “It’s a joint effort of students working together to do awesome things like finding new species.”

The Wakarusa Wetlands are one of three wetlands in Kansas. The other two are the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and the Cheyenne Bottoms. Robbie Wood, a junior at Haskell University from Tahlequah, Okla., is an environmental science major who has had experience working in the wetlands. Wood said that the wetlands have a unique soil made of wabash clay that is a geographical creation. He said that some species are really dependent on this specific soil.

“Destroying the wetlands that are already there, you’re destroying things that can’t be recreated overnight,” Wood said.

Hannah Barling is a junior from Arkansas majoring in journalism. Read more from .

  • Updated Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm
  • Edited by Elise Reuter